Manchester United have finally signed Nemanja Matic from Chelsea and with that, the Red Devils look all set for the upcoming season. Jose Mourinho looks to have put in that final piece of the jigsaw puzzle that seemed missing from his team.
But as soon as the Matic deal was doing the rounds the United faithful thought that they will get to hear some good news with it. Everyone was hoping that the acquisition of a new defensive midfielder would mean that United will finally be offloading Marouane Fellaini. And for a fraction of a second everyone thought that this long cherished dream of their’s was about to come true. But sadly enough, Jose Mourinho was quick to shut down any such rumours claiming that Fellaini was an important part of his squad.
And oddly enough if you manage to see through the past few seasons, Fellaini has been a manager’s darling even though he has received a fair bit of stick from his fans. So we take a look at why exactly is Fellaini such an important part of every United manager’s team and is the new signing, Nemanja Matic really better than the big Belgian?
In the past season of the Premier League, Marouane Fellaini played 28 games for Manchester United and in these games, the Belgian played in three different positions across the midfield which also included an attacking midfielder’s role for two games. Matic, on the other hand, played 35 games for Chelsea and all of these were either as a central midfielder or as a defensive midfielder.
Fellaini during the course of those 28 games made 29 key interceptions across the length of the pitch while Matic made 55 interceptions – a number far greater than Fellaini’s comparing the fact that these two players largely played in the same position. In terms of blocks made, these two players are neck to neck with Fellaini having made 5 blocks while Matic managed 8. But Nemanja Matic easily trumps out the Belgian when it comes to discipline on the pitch. Throughout the whole of the previous season, Matic managed to pick up only 4 yellow cards as opposed to the reckless Marouane Fellaini who picked up 9 yellow cards and also 1 red card.
When you are the defensive midfielder in a team your job is to give that extra layer of protection to your defence by breaking up counter attacks and any forward treats from the opposition. But as far as Matic is concerned, he played a big role for Chelsea while going forward. The Serbian International clocked up 7 assists to his name at Chelsea last season and made a total of 1139 forward passes. While Fellaini made only 672 forward passes and his assists column is quite evidently dry. This gives a clear indication that Fellaini can be used in one role and one role only and that is to play as a defensive midfielder. While Matic on the other hand can provide equal support to United when they intend to go forward. And for a team which found goals really hard to come by last season, this could be a great boost.
So the next time when you are comparing these two players you have to look at both aspects of the game and then start comparing these two. And when you bring in the attacking prospect of the game into the debate then it is quite clear that Nemanja Matic is leaps and bounds ahead of Fellaini.